ORPHAN BLACK / CHRONONAUTS / BATGIRL / GIANT DAYS [Reviews]: Cult of Personality.

As of late, the Sunday Stash has been more epic than Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.

Yeah– we got comic reviews up the ying-yang, but with some Comic Book WOMEN, too.

Happy reading!



ORPHAN BLACK #1 - IDW
ORPHAN BLACK #1 – IDW
"Brother" Myke Ladiona @onemyke
“Brother” Myke Ladiona
@onemyke

With the debut of the third season of the Orphan Black television series just weeks away (April 18th, 2015) it makes sense that the series creators, Graeme Manson and John Fawcett along with IDW vet Jody Houser, would want to release a comic based off the show to get fans excited. After reading the first issue it seems like the comics might do just that, but not in the way they intended. The books are supposed to be an interesting way to flesh out the backstory of the show, yet that premise is just a few panels away from making this limited run a glorified series recap.

First of all, it’s hard to tell who these books are going to be for. This first issue reimagines the events of the pilot, all with a bit of added backstory and various lines of inner monologue from a few select characters in the show. It’s nice for fans to see a different perspective of what happened in the pilot episode again, just to revisit the OB world again, but there wasn’t enough revealed in the backstory that hasn’t already either been told in exposition later on in the show or telegraphed through Tatiana Manslany’s amazing portrayal of every single clone. This definitely isn’t for people who haven’t seen the show yet– because repetition sucks. The art by Szymon Kudransi (Spawn, Batman: Streets of Gotham) is fine at times, but it’s hard to not feel like you’re seeing an dulled-down, rotoscoped version of something you can just watch in HD, and of course it’s missing Maslany’s performance — the life blood of the show.

All that aside, it might have been the simple mistake of using the first issue of the comic series to tell Sarah’s story, since she’s already the primary protagonist of the show. As the comics continue and we get into the backstory of all the other clones, Helena especially, the idea of revisiting what we’ve seen on television from a different perspective might just pay off. 3/5 Triplets out of Quintuplets.




INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #1 - Image
INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #1 – Image
Ryan "Salvation" Scott @ radio_adventure
Ryan “Salvation” Scott @ radio_adventure

If superheroes aren’t your thing, Image comics is really where you want to be. Invisible Republic is the newest reason for that.

Those who read the criminally underrated Star Wars: Legacy (Volume II) from Dark Horse knows that Corinna Bechko has her shit together. Pair her with hubby Gabriel Hardmen and Jordan Boyd on a post apocalyptic sci-fi, Blade Runner/Mad Max esque book and you get what looks to be, based off issue number one, a big ass home run.

The story of Arthur McBride (which we barely scratch the surface of) is so compelling that the swift ace of this boom is utterly frustrating in the best kind of “please give me more issues now” kind of way. If this doesn’t get optioned as Ridley Scott’s next project, I’ll be surprised.

Read this book, geeks. 5/5 Bibles.




BATGIRL #40 / ENDGAME #1 - DC
BATGIRL #40 / ENDGAME #1 – DC
Stephanie "Lady Croft" @Steph_Panisello
Stephanie “Lady Croft”
@Steph_Panisello

For those of you unfamiliar with Batgirl in the New 52, she is just that: A NEW Batgirl. For starters, in only “three DC Universe years” she has gone through the horrific experience of being shot and paralyzed by the Joker during “The Killing Joke” (thus turning into the Oracle), suddenly walking again (thanks to Flashpoint, where an alternate DC Universe time was created), and, now, attending college (yet everything still happened and she remembers?).

I apologize for the run-on sentence but.. it’s confusing.

It’s sad to think that Barbara Gordon — who is iconically a STRONG survivor and intelligent woman who overcame a disability — is now just a shallowly written college girl. She was a respected character. Not sure why they didn’t just create a whole new Batgirl, as it would have made more sense than forcing Barbara into a completely different personality. It’s insulting! Even the nickname “Babes” is troubling; not only do we lose her historical nickname but in this case she no longer has a name– she’s just a babe. Anyways, enough of my rant about this strangely forced story to “keep” continuity. Let’s continue now with a Batgirl #40 in its new Archie comic version.

Same Batgirl time, same Batgirl channel.
Same Batgirl time, different Batgirl channel.

This new Batgirl arc is clearly written for the young teen audience. There’s a lot of hash-tagging and shorthand for words, almost to the point of needing a glossary. This book is definitely the strongest of this new arc (although some in our own congregation would strongly disagree) and lacks all the soapy, self-absorbed qualities that the earlier issues had; it’s a relief to see some redeeming moments. Batgirl is still a shallowly written character, but if there is anything to take from this new Batgirl in #40, it’s that she is smart — despite a sad lack of common sense — and that her past does not define who she is today. This Batgirl is by no means my cup of tea, but thankfully there was a moment of self reflection and growth.

We see “Babes” find out that her true nemesis is herself, whose origin is explained in a flashback sequence prior to the surgical chip that was placed in her body. She is seen as an angry and vengeful Barbara, taking away all the survivor strength that she once had as Oracle. Again, she is dumbed down and seen as a vengeful victim. This computerized hurt and vengeful predictive algorithm version of herself (that is out to kill future crime offenders in order to “save” Gotham) is quite a stretch. She does this through analyzing social data from a dating site, which comes to no surprise since this new arc is all about what is trending. Perhaps this Lady doesn’t understand how information added to your dating profile can be used to map your future criminal capabilities.

Silly me, I must not be in the know.

This fit a lot nicer at Free People.
This fit a lot nicer at Free People.

Now for some more beloved new “Babes”. Batgirl: Endgame #1 is about the Endgame Virus taking over Gotham, created by the Joker. Batgirl saves Lucius Fox, his wife and his daughter. Finally, BABS seems to be fighting some actual threatening crime! However in this one-shot, her first new badass Endgame Virus rescue is done with no words. That’s right– just art, and it took the two same disappointing writers, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, to “write it”. At least the art is a huge step up from Batgirl #35-#40.

Bengal does an amazing job with the art and color giving the story gravitas and strength. The stakes are high and the suspense keeps you engaged. We can’t tell whether Batgirl will continue her shallow college girl antics; but one things for sure, emoticons are the only use of communication, as well a lovely depiction of poop.

If this is what DC thinks our future generation of readers wants– vocabulary and speech will be non-existent. At least, it means there is a very bright future for good artists in this increasingly illiterate Batgirl comic world. If you can’t give us a some good writing at least give us some good art. Batgirl #402/5 Bat-Bibles, Batgirl: Endgame #13.5/5.




GIANT DAYS #1 - BOOM!
GIANT DAYS #1 – BOOM!
"Dynast" Dana Keels @hatandwand
“Dynast” Dana Keels
@hatandwand

I really had no expectations going into this issue, but what I found was something else entirely. Giant Days follows three friends, Susan, Esther and Daisy in their first year at college. John Allison (Bobbins, Scary Go Round, Bad Machinery) does a marvelous job at giving each character their own personality that makes each respective girl feel alive and a pleasure to read. The issue revolves around Susan making a bet with Esther that she can’t go drama free for three days, which goes awry once Susan bumps into her most detested ex-boyfriend. Sounds straightforward enough, but the magic of this book is in the details.

Allison does a great job of littering in facts and clues about the various characters backstories and personalities. Lissa Treiman’s art in this issue is beautifully drawn. The book feels like a very well drawn animated series that knows its a comic. The whole thing has a Disneyesque feel to it (rightfully so, Lissa Treiman has worked on films like Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph). Overall, this issue is a magnificent start to what might be one of my favorite books this year. I’ll be waiting for class to start once again for the next issue. 4/5 Giant Bibles.




THE FLY #1 - IDW
THE FLY: OUTBREAK #1 – IDW
"Abbess" Jackie @Jackie_Henley
“Abbess” Jackie
@Jackie_Henley

So basically, if you’re looking for A Bug’s Life-meets Outbreak-meets 50 Shades, The Fly: Outbreak is your comic.

Brandon (Witch Doctor) Seifert‘s “The Book of Transgenesis” starts by contrasting a romantic relationship with the possibility of the Fly infection (possible STD) he might be genetically carrying, spreading to those Martin loves, all the while attempting to find a cure for his full-blown Fly Man father, Anton.

Oh, David Cronenberg.

The artwork by Menton 3 (The Squidder) is simple and clean with realistic human structure that makes for an easy to read experience, with a coloring that lends itself to an appropriately creepy sci-fi setting.

2.5/5 Bibles for a slight lack in content and Martin having such a strange Sex-Crazed girlfriend with a gnarly case of Baby Fever and little explanation for it.




SHAPER #1 - Dark Horse
SHAPER #1 – Dark Horse
Jason "Pope" Sacks @jasonsacks
Jason “Pope” Sacks
@jasonsacks

Yeah, so hey, there’s another science fiction comic out now.

Yeah, another science fiction comic. What are the odds on that?

Hey, wow, it also has a misunderstood angsty teen hero. In it, we see a war that features weird looking aliens and cool spaceships and awesome devices and whoo hoo things are happening in space! Hoo hah.

Man, I never thought I’d see the day when there was a glut of sci-fi comics at the nation’s LCSs, but there are, and with so many appearing seemingly every week, it becomes hard to tell them apart. The story here by first-time comic writer Eric Heisserer does nothing much to get the reader involved in the characters. And while the art by Felipe (Light of Thy Countenance) Massafera is lovely and attractive but not enough to make me want to come back and read this book over all the other sci-fi comics on the stands, I just gotta say meh! This is one of those movies where the CGI is nice but the story seems like same old same old. 2/5 Run-down TIE fighters.




THE PUNISHER #16 - Marvel
THE PUNISHER #16 – Marvel
Kenny "Saint Superkick" Sanders @HueySkyywalker
Kenny “Saint Superkick” Sanders
@HueySkyywalker

I remember, somehow, someway, when my 5th grade Social Studies teacher made us all watch Mr. Castle Goes to Washington. Alright, so I’m just fucking with y’all. Sounds like it would be a kick-ass class, tho, right?

Look, The Punisher is one of my least favorite comics since the 90s; I haven’t been able to grasp the concepts swirling the One Man Army since he was too busy battling Matt Murdock for NYC supremacy. Unfortunately, my peeps, I can’t talk about my favorite part of this comic. Why? Because then I’d have to SuperKick ya.

No– the thing is, it’s a similar situation to my favorite ol’ school Pun comics. SOMEONE shows up — sorta like the end of Monday Night RAW — and lets Mr. Castle know that Washington is one thing, but my hood is another. No– it isn’t Hell’s Kitchen. Yes– it’s one Hell of a clash. Thanks to Moody and his assignment, I have more to look forward to now as we near the end a.k.a. The Last Days of Nathan (Deathlok, Black Widow) Edmondson‘s well-respected run.

Oh– and in case you were wondering, Mitch Gerards‘ art is scratchy, gritty and yet still full of flash. He brilliantly knocks out the security cam scenes that switch from angle to angle, and, damn that reveal! Also, it’s good to see that Frank’s mental state is as ruthless as ever, far more despondent than ever before. Parishioners, this is the familiar yet unexpected Punisher. Get on that. 3.5/5 Bibles.




CHRONONAUTS #1 - Image
CHRONONAUTS #1 – Image
Luke "Heirophant" Anderson IG @LUKEPOISONER
Luke “Heirophant” Anderson
IG @LUKEPOISONER

An F-14 Tomcat found in an ancient temple. A fleet of sports cars found in amongst Mayan ruins. A live-feed satellite broadcasting the Civil War. Yes folks, Mark Millar‘s new creator owned title debuts from Image, and it sees him now dabbling firmly in H.G. Wells’ (or maybe even Doctor Who’s) territory, albeit with a nod to Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff. NASA sponsors experiments in time, and “Chrononauts” are the astronauts they send on these endeavors. But the first manned mission “in eighteen months” goes awry, with the rock-star scientist Dr. Quinn at the helm of the mission getting stuck in the barren wastes of western Asia in 1504. It’s up to his loudmouthed protégé Dr. Riley to save him.

Chrononauts #1 is a rollicking thrill ride of fun and laughs, with Millar (Kick Ass, Wanted, Marvel: Civil War, The Ultimates, etc.) in fine form, this time exploring the sci-fi/pulp side of things, rather than another superhero tale. Sean Murphy (Punk-Rock Jesus, Hellblazer) fills the artwork with angular, busy energy and grit, with the final splash panels guaranteed to leave you clamoring for issue #2. It’s an entertaining start to what promises to be a popular series, and probably an even more popular movie adaptation. 4/5 Ancient Astronauts.




***BONUS REVIEW*** (aka We Forgot to Post it Last Week!)

THE SURFACE #1 - Image
THE SURFACE #1 – Image
Jason "The Preacher" Bud @yomamascouch
Jason “The Preacher” Bud
@yomamascouch

Having just cyber-thumbed my digital download of Image Comics, The Surface 001, let me profess I’ve just evidenced some science fiction scions who can scintillate one’s consciousness… Here comes The Surface brain trust: Story, Ales Kot (Zero, Secret Avengers); Art, Langdon Foss (Winter Soldier); Colors, Jordie Bellaire (Pretty Deadly); Inks, Clayton Cowles (Deadpool MAX).

Designer Tom Muller (Zero, Ninjak), wet-wires up a brain-drooling re-tooling on the meta-comic narrative structure first popularized by Alan Moore’s The Watchmen from back in the ‘80s; and Muller’s delivery on this is intellectually heavy in a way that will still seduce you into graphic image blissdom.

I found myself instantly jacked in with a multi-narrative strand-delivery that consisted of a mysteriously prophetic narrator, a rabid-dog-fire President (who looks clone-spliced from Kevin Spacey/Elvis Presley DNA), and the President’s hacktivist son and his two lovers.
This merry band of pranksters, alluding to the Beats of yore in a truly Keseyian sense, seem to be channeling a hipster-idealist altruism akin to the Red Ones mentioned above. We first encounter this techno-adept trio within the metroglut of a near-future Tasmania, as they prepare to leave the confines of concrete and steel; in search of something greater on its exterior..

The Surface world is one where our perception of universal boundaries has been expanded, to the point where we may be unable to determine where our own actual existence as a unique human organism begins, and/or how cyborgian, we and our world may have become/actually be.

Or maybe everything’s just a really big hologram? Expect The Surface to slide us into the digital slip… 4/5 Steely Dans.

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